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Genetic Counselors’ Perception of the Effect on Practice of Laws Restricting Abortion


In 2013, twenty-two states enacted seventy provisions restricting access to abortion. The legislation restricted access to abortions by instituting more regulations on providers and facilities, by prohibiting abortion prior to viability, by restricting funding available to patients and by requiring patients to wait a mandatory time period before having a procedure. Genetic counselors are trained to provide unbiased, comprehensive information in a non-directive style in order to allow patients to exercise their reproductive freedom. We developed a survey of 37 questions for genetic counselors to gauge the potential impact these provisions will have on their ability to be a patient advocate. A total of 286 individuals completed the survey; however, not all respondents answered all questions. Qualitative questions complemented quantitative survey entries, allowing respondents to input thoughts and examples. Results indicate genetic counselors in all regions share similar professional opinions about the provisions. More genetic counselors in the South and Midwest noticed changes impacting patients since the provisions have been enacted. These regional differences correlate with the location of states that have seem the greatest increase in antiabortion provisions.

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Correspondence to Caitlin Cooney.

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Caitlin Cooney, Laura Hercher, and Komal Bajaj declare they have no conflict of interest.

Human Studies and Informed Consent

All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000. Informed consent was obtained from all patients for being included in the study.

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No animal studies were carried out by the authors for this article.

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Cooney, C., Hercher, L. & Bajaj, K. Genetic Counselors’ Perception of the Effect on Practice of Laws Restricting Abortion. J Genet Counsel 26, 1059–1069 (2017).

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  • Abortion legislation
  • Counseling style
  • Patient advocacy